Coffees That Do More
Photo Credit: New Africa/Shutterstock
“Having it all” has been a concept women struggle with. There’s a societal expectation for us to manage hearth, home, and — in an economy where the cost of living has far surpassed the speed of income growth — bring home the bacon. And now, as the pandemic blurred or completely erased the line between work and life, we’re expected to do even more.
For many of us, the answer to that has been coffee. Caffeine is the performance drug of choice for Americans from coast to coast. But that’s hard on the body. Coffee can be acidic, meaning it won’t play nice with the ulcers your daily life has granted you. It’s appetite-suppressive, which means you may end up running on fumes rather than real nutrients. Some people are susceptible to jitters, and others may find their anxiety kicked into higher gear. Many feel a crash midday and have trouble sleeping soundly after a day of artificial overstimulation.
The good news, though, is that many beverage makers have encountered the same problems, which has led to the development of coffee drinks that solve them. Adaptogens — herbal and plant-based substances able to help combat stress, enhance clarity, and preserve homeostasis — have hit the mainstream in a big way and are now not only on the radar of wellness brands but in their product ingredient lists, too.
To help you do more, we’ve rounded up some of the most innovative coffee drinks that also do more — all the better to support your health, wellness, and power to shatter those glass ceilings.
Cold brew is better brew. And that’s not just my opinion — for those who are sensitive to the acidity of coffee, it’s a fact. Sure, hot coffee releases more antioxidants, but not only is cold brew smoother to the taste, but it’s also 70% less acidic. And this one in particular won’t just help balance your belly — it’s good for your brain, too.
I’m obsessed with these refrigerated bottles of coffee, and not least because of their proprietary formula of what they call “cognitive enhancers” that help make you feel sharper and ingredients designed to help reduce the jitters for sustained and relaxed energy and focus. They rely on nootropics and reishi to infuse this undetectable sorcery into their coffees, and they worked with an ethnobotanist to develop the perfect blend to enhance their 100% Arabica coffee beans, single-sourced from a 120-year-old family roaster. In it, you’ll find — but not taste — Cognizini Citicoline, caffeine amplifying Alphinia Galanga, theanine, and ergothioeine for cellular protection.
The 25-calorie Perfectly Sweet is smooth and lush over ice with a splash of milk (I like Fairlife’s lactose-free ultra-pasteurized, or Fairlife’s chocolate milk if I want to make a mocha), and the Harmonious Vanilla is nice with almond milk. They also make two strengths of black coffees and a Rejuvenating Ginger flavor, too.
Want your cold brew shelf-stable, flavored, dairy-free, and creamy? Taika’s got you. No need to worry about oat milk shortages when its Oat Milk Latte is ready to drink out of these cute minimalistic cans. It’s smooth and lightly sweet using allulose and monkfruit instead of sugar, and also chock-full of adaptogens, including the trendiest functional mushrooms. This list includes theanine to help you focus, ashwagandha to keep you calm, lion’s mane for clarity, cordyceps for energy, and reishi to support your immunity. They’re only 80 calories each, and that goes for the Macadamia Latte, too. But if you prefer to choose your own milk, the Black Coffee is a 10-calorie blank slate with the secret superpowers described above.
Another way this coffee works harder? That phone number on the can is a real working number that you can text at any time to reach customer service. That means if you need help or support while you’re burning the midnight oil, the company is doing the same. Its branding is irreverent and super fun (read the ticker on its website if you don’t believe me!), so don’t be shy about reaching out.
A lot of health and fitness pros bemoan the absence of nutritional value and the high presence of sugar in fancy flavored coffee drinks. And that’s exactly why SuperCoffee has come to exist. The company supplements its shelf-stable coffee drinks with 10 grams of dairy or plant-based protein in a variety of flavors that, poured over ice, will help you save time and money by taking the morning drive-thru out of your routine.
The vegan-friendly plant-based cans are fortified with sustainable pea protein and are Whole30-approved. They’re available in Coconut Mocha, Sweet Cream (my favorite), and classic French Vanilla. The ones in the bottle are beefed up with milk protein isolate and come in all the standards: caramel, mocha, vanilla, and hazelnut. Limited editions like Blueberry Latte are a great score if you can get them. This seasonal flavor was incredible.
Best of all, all of them come in at only 80 calories each. There’s no sugar since monkfruit is the sweetener of choice, and there's MCT oil to keep that 200 milligrams of caffeine per serving focused.
Sometimes, though, you just need coffee to be plain good coffee and immediately available. This instant freeze-dried coffee is made from 100% Arabica — not the cheaper, more common Robusta — with no added chemicals or ingredients. Plus, Waka donates 4% of its profits to charity — water to help balance out the amount of water typically wasted by coffee processing.
Although this coffee doesn’t have any other secret superpowers, it’s on the list because it’s also dissolvable in cold water for iced coffee, which makes it a perfect coffee-spiked base for any flavor protein powder. I recommend whey for creaminess, and a wide variety of flavors means you can make any specialty iced coffee flavor at home in just seconds. Also, we love that it’s available in its full, bold flavor in decaffeinated form. Bear in mind that decaf doesn’t mean un-caf. Those who are sensitive to chemicals and stimulants (raises hand) will find that it can provide just the right amount of boost. And in an instant formula, the combination is the “smarter, not harder” quick-energy situation in its cleanest, unadulterated, tastiest form.
This may not be coffee, but it’s cold brew and coffee-flavored, so it counts to me. Made with raw cacao husk, water, honey, and coffee, this refrigerated bottled beverage harnesses the antioxidizing power of the superfood from sources in Guatemala. It’s ethically harvested and brewed slow for a chocolatey aroma, then high-pressure-processed to extend the shelf life and protect the flavor of the drink.
They’re only 20 calories a bottle, so you can add your choice of creamer and turn it into an indulgent cold mocha, minus much of the caffeine and plus more chocolate.
Prefer to save the fridge space and don’t mind weaning off coffee in favor of cacao and adaptogens? Then this is the bevvie for you. This brand calls its mixes “elixirs” and its cacao blend is boosted with Maca, Mucuna Pruriens, and He Shou Wu, and crafted to help enhance your mood to help you better deal with your stress. These adaptogenic ingredients are sourced directly from where they’re natively grown, which makes them all the more potent. Plus, they back up these powerful foods with guaranteed, tested levels of active compounds, untouched by chemical solvents. For instance, their ashwagandha is “the most clinically studied, highest concentration full-spectrum root extract available.”
If you’re ready to go off any kind of bean entirely, JOYA also makes a matcha blend for focus and a skin-geared one with turmeric. They’re all certified organic, too.